How ATMs Work

Automated teller machines (typically referred to as ATMs) are a modern day staple in a consumer’s world. They offer a quick and easy way to turn the money in your bank account or credit card into real cash in minutes. Few things operate as fast and conveniently as ATMs do. These cash dispensers are virtually everywhere! Part of what makes them so successful is that ATMs are plentiful in a community. Find them in shopping centers, banks, airports and related businesses. Read on to see how the process works and the security surrounding the machines.

Debit Cards are ATM Friendly

Within the world of money, two types of plastic rule paperless finance. These are credit cards and debit cards. A traditional credit card offers the freedom to spend up to a certain amount of money. At the end of the month, you’re required to either pay off that balance in full or make a minimum payment determined by the company. Debit cards operate off of the money you have in your possession. Think of your paycheck, and cash or checks you’ve deposited to the bank. Financial experts recommend debit cards over credit cards to prevent accumulating debt.

Insert these cards right into an ATM and type in your private pin. The terminal will contact your bank’s computers and allow you to take out cash. More and more businesses are making accommodations to accept ATM/debit cards in the same fashion as credit cards, meaning it isn’t necessary to stop at an ATM.

The Mechanics Behind an ATM

There are the manufacturing aspects of an ATM that requires parts to be machined, usually in a machine shop or a fabrication facility. Parts of the vault where the money is stored is manufactured by a metal stamping process that bends the metal into a shape that fits inside the machine. There are also roll forming companies that build sections of the machine that are fabricated in mass quantity to make the machine at a low cost.

ATMs while complex in nature, ATMs boil down to a host to connect to a central database. This “control center” pulls the information and relays it back to the machine itself. The network is shared to allow customers to get cash regardless of if the ATM is one offered by their bank or an independent party.

ATM communication operates off of leased line or dial-up connections. Each has their pros and cons. Leased-line ATMS do best in high traffic locations where speed and reliability is a necessity. Dial-up ATMS are best for placement in individual businesses with lower use. They’re cheaper and offer just as effective service as a higher cost leased-line system.

Either way, both types of machines are owned either by a bank or independent provider. Both are safe and secure, although bank owned ATMs exclusively offer service to those who hold an account within the institution. New age ATMs are going well beyond just dispensing cash. Some offer check scanning technologies that provide a way to deposit money into an account without the need of a bank teller. Others also accommodate cash to be inserted into the ATM for likewise deposit. Most ATMs dispense cash in $20 bills, but more and more are offering a choice on what types of bills you’d like to receive.

Using The Machine

Start the process by inserting your credit or debit card into the card reader. This part of the machine reads the black magnetic strip on the back of the card. With that strip, the machine instantly connects to your account. Enter your security pin to verify yourself and navigate through the screen’s prompts to select how much cash you’d like to receive and from which account. Your ATM experience ends with the bills dispensing and a receipt printing details of your transaction.

Have you ever wondered about what happens if an ATM doesn’t dispense the right amount of money? You’ll be happy to know that it is virtually impossible for this to happen as there are a few security measures put in place to prevent this. An electronic eye carefully watches each bill that moves through the dispenser and checks the information against the amount you intended to dispense. Furthermore, hi-tech sensors scan the thickness of each bill right before they exit the machine. If they’re stuck together, the ATM holds the bills internally for an employee’s attention. In the unlikely situation that a cash mix up occurs, records are kept dating back to two years’ time which can be used to settle any transaction disputes.

Keep You & Your Information Safe!

ATMs are secure in nature, but unfortunately, the area and outside variables of the machine are not always kosher. Choose to use an ATM that is in a safe and well-lit area. Bank ATMs are almost always inside, and after hours they require a debit or credit card for access. ATMs located within businesses are also safer choices as these are in high traffic areas.

To keep your information safe, carefully consider what you plan to use for your PIN. It should be easy for you to remember but nothing that someone could easily guess if they had your information. PINs that represent birthdays, phone numbers or graduations quickly give your security away. Keep your body even with the ATM and be mindful of peering eyes that might be looking to catch your PIN number. Tuck your money away immediately and take your transaction receipt with you. It’s always possible to back out of a request for funds if you aren’t comfortable with the machine or the surroundings. Save the receipt and note the location of the ATM for easy follow up with your bank. Keeping your idenity and yourself safe is the number one goal, you may want to get a hotel loan or something big!

Safe ATM Operation for Businesses

Offering an ATM to your customers is an excellent service addition. Many will appreciate the convenience and others are likely to pop into your store for the ATM when they might have not otherwise. With the extra foot traffic, your sales could go up! Your ATM dealer will take care of setting up the terminal and come out for maintenance if necessary. Operational training will be provided along with safety and security tips.

If you already have an ATM within your business, remove the funds from the ATM when it is time to close up shop for the day. Leave the cash compartment open to show any potential intruders that breaking in isn’t worth their time.

ATMs are a modern convenience and are responsible for bridging the gap between banks and end customers. Take advantage of the easy technology to get safely get cash as needed.